Transgender and Undocumented Students in Illinois Can Now Access State Aid

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Undocumented students and some transgender students previously shut out of Illinois’ state financial aid system have been granted access.

New legislation that went into effect earlier this month allows affected students to secure money for college through the new Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid.

Several dozen people have already taken advantage of the option, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Previously, Illinois students had to fill out the Free Application for Federal Financial Aid (FAFSA) to qualify for state aid. But that set-up posed problems for undocumented students, as well as for some transgender students.

Without a social security number, undocumented individuals can’t complete the FAFSA — essentially locking them out of Illinois’ state aid program. The arrangement also created barriers for some transgender students. The FAFSA asks students who were identified as male at birth to register for Selective Service — a requirement that can make it impossible for applicants whose gender identity doesn’t match the sex they were assigned at birth to complete the form.

The new alternative application is designed to extend educational access to “all students, regardless of race, immigration status, or gender identity,” Illinois State Rep. Elisabeth “Lisa” Hernandez told the Sun-Times.

Read the full story.

Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at mstegmeir@nacacnet.org.

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